World DNA Day is taking place today worldwide. This is a day that the public can learn more about genetics and genomics! This day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, and the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. In light of this we have decided to feature some of the work being done around genomics in Ireland.

Genomics is the study of an animal’s DNA or ‘Genotype’ (usually a tissue or hair sample).
Genotypes are made up of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are a DNA sequence variation occurring commonly within a population and each SNP represents a difference in a single
DNA building block, called a nucleotide. Chips used in genomic testing can vary in size and can have various numbers of SNPs. DNA is transmitted in chunks and genomic testing then identifies which DNA chunks have been passed from the parents to it’s offspring.

Genomics is the study of an animal’s DNA (usually a tissue or hair sample)

The genotype is studied to check parentage to confirm that the dam and sire recorded are correct. The second thing that genomics then looks at are an animals traits (milk production, carcass weight etc.), the genomic sample is essentially compared to the genomic samples of proven animals (100K+ proven animals). Animals that are superior on certain traits will be identified through their genotype sample before any performance data has been recorded. This allows herd-owners to make proactive decisions when selecting which animals to keep as herd replacements.

When an animal is genotyped all these traits are studied, genomics is then added to the phenotypic data (traditional data) and an index with more reliability is then formed as a result. Genomics includes the DNA of an animal (from tissue, hair, blood or semen) in addition to other performance data on relatives, in its EBI/Eurostar calculation.

Did you know?

  • Ireland was second in the world to launch dairy genomics, after the US.
  • Beef Genomics in Ireland is the largest livestock genomics project globally.
  • IDB Chip – This is a International Dairy & Beef Chip. This was developed in Ireland, with Illumina. It is currently on version 3.
  • There will be over 2.5 million animals in total genotyped during period of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).
  • There are currently just under 1 million genotypes on the ICBF database at 940,000. ICBF expect this figure to surpass 1 million genotypes later this year.

  <– Click here for more information on genomics in Ireland.